Flirting via text can be one of the most exciting phases of a blossoming relationship or fling. You can get a sense of your mutual chemistry and your partner's sense of humor, all while sharing and learning details about yourselves. And you're not confined by a set period of time together, like being on an IRL date where you're trying to cram in your life story with time for questions before drinks. But because shooting off a text can be done pretty much wherever, whenever, this also means that sometimes the lack of response (or a super-delayed response) is a message in and of itself.
This is where the term "being left on read" originates. Whether your partner has got read receipts on or not, being "left on read" means that they're ignoring you, literally leaving your message on "read" after having seen it, or otherwise just not responding. Sometimes they're leaving you on read for an hour to like, do their job which they are paid to do, and sometimes they're leaving you on read to send a message that they're not as interested as you. Either way, remind yourself that it's not personal. Here are some things to keep in mind about being left on read.
1. Generally, it means you may not a priority at this time.
Simply put, this is the crux of what being left on read means, as Chivonne Henry, MS, licensed marriage and family therapist explains. Okay, this seems harsh, but think about it— "this time" could mean "within this minute, hour," etc. or, if it's been a few days, within this period in their life.
We've all done the thing where we freak out over someone not responding, only to feel foolish when they eventually do respond, and it's clear they were just tied up in something at the moment and not purposefully trying to be rude. Being left on read for an hour or even a day in the appropriate circumstances shouldn't be cause for you to totally give up on a person, but if it's been a few days with nothing on their end, you'll probably feel better yourself if you start to move on.
2. Re-examine the text to see if your last message even needed a response.
Henry suggests looking at your last message again and seeing if your last text even needed a response. Sometimes there's no response because the convo just kinda died, or because your last message was a bit vague. No stress! If they're interested, they'll find a reason to text you again with a fresh conversation thread.
In the future, if you wanna nix any concern about vagueness in your messages, go with a more direct approach when texting. Instead of saying "let's hang out soon," try being more clear with "I'm interested in you and I want to spend time with you and get to know you," as Tennesha Wood, matchmaker and dating expert explains. Ask for what you want directly with "I want to see you, can we meet up tonight?" instead of an open-ended "WYD."
3. Be patient.
"Many times we can simply be overthinking it and can assume the person may be purposely ignoring us when they just may be busy," Henry adds. Because there's the chance that this is simply a temporary delay, give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Don't triple or quadruple text them like, "did you get my message???" as this is...not super respectful of their life and boundaries and kinda clingy. Think about how annoyed you get when someone does this to you.
4. Stop texting.
Yes, getting left on read can be confusing and even hurtful at times, Henry says, but resist the urge to keep texting. "All communication is communicating," she adds. Sometimes the other person is leaving you on read as a stone-cold power play — in which case, you don't want to make it worse for yourself by continuing to barrage them with messages.
5. Do you.
"Go about your life, because you are important, so treat yourself as such," dating coach Julie Pham suggests. As tempting as it is to let a read receipt bring you down, try to live your life and ignore it. "When you constantly wait around for someone else, you're communicating to yourself and others that you are secondary," Pham says.
6. Ask yourself if this is a pattern.
If you are always being left on read or feeling like you are with this person, check in with yourself about your relationship patterns and expectations you have, Sasha Jackson, LCSW, explains. It's possible you're going after people who are not available (emotionally or otherwise) or that you're not clear on your expectations.
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